The Naturally Occurring Prison Community

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  • Title: The Naturally Occurring Prison Community: Aging in Place in Prison
  • Author(s): Charlene Lane
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: Aging & Social Change
  • Journal Title: The Journal of Aging and Social Change
  • Keywords: Older Adults, Prison, Aging in Place
  • Volume: 9
  • Issue: 1
  • Year: 2019
  • ISSN: 2576-5310 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2576-5329 (Online)
  • DOI:
  • Citation: Lane, Charlene . 2019. "The Naturally Occurring Prison Community: Aging in Place in Prison." The Journal of Aging and Social Change 9 (1): 31-41. doi:10.18848/2576-5310/CGP/v09i01/31-41.
  • Extent: 11 pages


Over the past decade, the number of older Americans has increased by 4.3 million; this rise in the aging population is also indicative of the population of incarcerated adults who are fifty-five and older. This phenomenon is particularly relevant in the state of Pennsylvania, USA where there are large numbers of “lifers,” individuals incarcerated without the possibility of parole. The term “Naturally Occurring Prison Community” (NOPC), coined by this author, delves into the lived experiences of older adults who are aging in place or growing old in prison. This phenomenon can be directly linked to Hunt’s Naturally Occurring Retirement Community (NORC) which examined the experiences of older adults aging in the same communities they have resided in for thirty-five years or more. It is important to understand the unique needs of lifers as well as perceptions of aging, spirituality, and lessons learned.